How Much Does an Architect Cost?
“Drawing lang ‘yan” (“It’s just a drawing”) is a comment you may have heard from people who dismiss the need for an Architect when planning, designing, and constructing spaces or structures.
The worth of design
Clients on a very tight budget may be tempted to cut corners on architectural fees, but as we’ve discussed in a previous article, there’s no need to be intimidated by what might seem like sky-high prices, as there is an Architect for every budget. However, it helps to demystify things by discussing what exactly goes into the money that you pay your Architect.
What is the average price range for hiring an architect in the Philippines?
The short answer is, it’s dependent on the Project Type and complexity. Cost, with variations based on the project type and complexity. According to the Standards of
Professional Practice, “it is also based on the Architect's talents, skill, experience, imagination, and on the type and level of professional services provided.” For usual houses, the standard professional fee of an Architect may be one or a combination of the following:
Paid via lump sum or a fixed fee; or
For a more exact reference, you may refer to the UAP Standards of Professional Practice (SPP) Documents No. 201-207, in relation to 210.
Let’s use an example. For residences, the usual professional fee of an Architect is percentage-based, at a recommended rate of 10% of the awarded or final Project Construction Cost. This is the most common type of compensation worldwide. It’s said to be fair to both you (the client) and the Architect since it’s pegged to the cost of the project that the client is willing to undertake.
What goes into the money that I pay my Architect?
One thing to note is that your Architect’s compensation/professional fee also covers the complete and detailed architectural design services, plus the engineering design services, which normally include structural/civil, plumbing/sanitary, electrical, and mechanical.
In some instances, the Client may consider services of other engineers, and as such, a separate contract from architectural design services will be agreed upon between the Client and the engineers. Nonetheless, the Architect will still remain to be the lead or prime professional for the Project, and shall coordinate all the works of the engineers. In such a case, the architectural design services shall then constitute 60% of the corresponding compensation or professional fee.
The compensation or professional fee applies to architects, whether as an "individual" or natural person, or as a "group practice" as part of a juridical entity, i.e. DTI registered sole proprietorship, or as a SEC-registered partnership, or corporation.
It may cover a set number of printed documents that are required for the project to take place. The number as well as the types of documents will be predetermined in the contract with your Architect.
It may also cover a set number of site visits throughout the construction process. Again, this number may vary depending on your agreement with the Architect.
Lastly—and most importantly—the compensation or professional fee covers your Architect’s 15-year liability period for the project. Per Article 1723 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, "The Engineer or Architect who drew up the plans and specifications for a building is liable for damages if within fifteen (15) years from the completion of the structure, the same should collapse by reason of a defect in those plans and specifications, or due to the defects in the ground.” Think of it this way—you’re paying your Architect the amount that is necessary to ensure that the quality of the project will stand the test of time.
What is the typical or standard schedule of payment for Architects?
As indicated in Section 6.4.6 of the SPP, a standard payment schedule is as follows:
Upon Signing of the Agreement: 5% of Professional Fee (PF)
Upon Completion of Schematic Design Phase: 15% of PF
Upon Completion of Design Development Phase: 20% of PF
Upon Completion of Contract Documents Phase: 50% of PF
Upon Completion of the Work: 10% of PF (5% for liability and 5% for periodic construction supervision)
But this is based on the standard Phases that a typical Architect provides. EAST has a unique Design Process that you can learn about here. EAST also explores other payment terms, depending on the project type.
What factors can make working with an Architect more expensive? How can I save money while working with an Architect?
Early on in the Design Process, your Architect will ask about your priorities for the project. Are you after the size of the space or the material finishes? Is your budget fixed? Do you have a strict timeline? Determining your top priority will help in managing your costs. These factors will also affect one another; for example, if you’re going for the maximum size, the material finishes used may be of lower quality, and so on.
Determining your top priority will help in managing your costs.
If you’re concerned about saving money on the Architectural Fee, one way to do that is to lessen the amount of deliverables that an Architect will provide. This may mean reducing their scope of work in terms of limiting project documentation, removing an entire phase (such as bidding and contract negotiation, if undertaken by the owner), or removing the engineering aspect from the scope, among many others. You may refer to SPP Document No. 210, Section 6.5 on Fee Adjustment Factors for better understanding.
EAST practices close collaboration with the client to ensure priorities are met
If you’d like to save money on the actual construction of the project, here are a few suggestions:
Buy materials on your own. (We refer to this as Owner-Supplied Materials or OSM.) Your contractor will solely be responsible for handling and/or installing the materials on-site.
Be the one to directly engage sub-contractors for your windows, roof, flooring systems, tile suppliers, and other such materials and areas. You accrue costs from your General Contractor if they are to handle this. Of course, coordinating with different sub-contractors and suppliers is time-consuming, which is why our advice is to let your Gen Con handle everything on your behalf if your budget allows it.
Finally, remember that when it comes to financing your project, it’s important to have a clear and detailed discussion of your budget and costing with your Architect. If you have any concerns about going over budget, best to bring them up during the planning stages to avoid having to make compromises when the project is already under construction. As always, the key is to work closely with your Architect and take their suggestions into account.